In his few short months as creative director, Demna Gvasalia has radically changed the face of Balenciaga. He’s ushered in a new aesthetic, one that combines the architectural approach of the house’s founder, Cristóbal Balenciaga, with the one that he’s crafted at Vetements.
Today, the house has unveiled its first ready-to-wear campaign under Gvasalia’s creative direction. Instead of shooting in a removed, other-worldly setting, the designer wanted to go for something more “real”. “I wanted the pieces to be shot in a real environment around where we work and live,” the designer said in an interview with WWD. “So we shot in various locations on the streets of Paris.”
For it, he enlisted acclaimed photographer Mark Borthwick, who worked brands such as Missoni and famously with designer Martin Margiela in the 90s and early 00s, shooting his AW98 collection for a book titled 2000-1 Maison Martin Margiela by Mark Borthwick. “Mark’s ‘real’ approach in his aesthetic was a key factor in my choice of photographer,” Gvasalia explained, speaking on his decision to enlist Borthwick to shoot the ad.
Styled by Dazed senior contributing fashion editor Lotta Volkova, the campaign is a stark contrast to the house’s previous campaigns – not least because there are no celebrities or A-list models. Ads created under Alexander Wang’s creative direction featured the likes of Zoë Kravitz, Anna Ewers, Lara Stone, Kate Moss and Sam Smith. As for Gvasalia’s attitude – “The new Balenciaga women, the women who wear the clothes, are my celebrities.”
The unveiling of this campaign comes just a week after Gvasalia’s debut menswear show for Balenciaga, presented at a show at Paris Fashion Week. Here, the designer explored the idea of tailoring as the male equivalent of haute couture, and sought to break its traditions and make it relevant for today. “With the womenswear we worked with constructing the attitude,” the designer said. “With menswear it’s more about the shape.”